Album Review: Comeback Kid - 'Outsider'

7 September 2017 | 4:30 pm | Alex Sievers
Originally Appeared In

Proof that Comeback Kid can do no wrong.

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Comeback Kid's sixth album, 'Outsider', is basically a "Best Of" release for the Canadian hardcore veterans. Because simply put, the band's latest effort features everything that has and continues to make them a great band. Proving that the only real outsiders here are their peers and competitors who want to catch up to their level.

'Outsider' captures the huge choruses and melodic hooks of 2005's underground-breaking record, 'Wake The Dead'; the more metal-inclined tone and beefy riffs that characterized 2014's damn fine 'Die Knowing'; the violent moods, darker emotions, and vicious anger heard on the underrated 'Broadcasting' and my personal favourite release, 'Symptoms + Cures'; the all-round strong songwriting that was present right from their 2003 debut, 'Turn It Around' ('Die Tonight' is and forever will be a great track); all driven along by Andrew Neufeld's primal, commanding vocals talents.

On top of all that, 'Outsider' also sees Comeback Kid treading through the waters of fast and furious thrash metal, at times providing Slayer-like riffs, occasionally showing off some 90's punk and grunge flavours, while still gifting us with tight and bouncy hardcore rhythms, deafening gang vocals that could fill out stadiums wall to wall, and plenty of uplifting melodic punk rock moments. As I said just before, this is essentially a "Best Of" release for CBK; showing off their collective musical influences while also confidently and effortlessly displaying where exactly they've come from in their 17-year career.  So, you know, it's really quite good!

Comeback Kid 2017

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Sure, songs like 'Outrage (Fresh Face, Stale Cause)' and 'Surrender Control' are just their usual anthemic tunes with breakneck riffs, fast drumming, and driving vocals, but they're all done well. Elsewhere, 'Throw That Stone', one of the record's heaviest songs, is just pure hardcore venom; tailor-made for floor clearing stage dives, large circle-pits, perfectly timed mic grabs, and general mosh pits alike. It's a fucking sick song, is what I'm getting at.

Also touching on the real highlights of 'Outsider', we have 'Recover' and 'Somewhere, Somehow' - my two favourites of the entire 13-track record. This pair are not simply standouts because they produce more melodic, almost-pop-punk moments that a song like 'Consumed The Vision' does; they stand out because they're damned solid and deliver genuinely great hooks and unforgettable choruses that give the very best of CBK's back catalogue a real run for its money. (Money? In hardcore? Ha, don't make me laugh).

Of course, it wouldn't be a CBK record without a couple short cuts that slide right under the two-minute mark. Enter 'Blindspot', which starts off like a 90's punk track - the kind that only gets performed to sweaty packed-out basements and absolutely nowhere else - and has one hell of a swinging mid-song breakdown though; making it a great mix of the old and the new(ish). Likewise, the thrashy 'Hell Of A Scene' starts off like some kind of Municipal Waste song before quickly transitioning into a 90's-sounding grunge chorus and then it's right back into the fast thrashing storm. Which is something that 'Livid, I'm Prime' also relishes in towards the end of the album's runtime, coming across like a wicked B-side to 'Die Knowing' in the process.

'Absolute' slightly breaks the pace early on by adopting a sludgier pace than the band's usual tempo, taking a heavier direction in the riff department and even has a guest vocal part from old mate Hevy Devy, AKA Devin Townsend, as well. As the middle point of this mosh inducing record arrives, you hit the previously mentioned 'Consumed The Vision', which has gotten "next single" written all over it. It also sees a great little guest spot from Chris Cresswell, who is, of course, the frontman for fellow Canadian punk rock peers, The Flatliners. However, arguably the most restrained musical moment of anything with the name "Comeback Kid" slapped over it comes with this record's final track, the emotional 'Moment In Time'. It starts and ends with the almost-creepy, yet intimate, Joe Cocker/Bruce Springsteen-like croon of Northcote (AKA Canadian singer-songwriter, Matthew Daniel Goud), who harmonizes with Neufeld towards the end of the piece, before rounding it out with his own lonesome vocals; supported only by the low, distorted chord progression that first began the track minutes earlier.

Honestly, I don't think there is anything objectively wrong with 'Outsider'. However, in terms of subjectivity - which I'm basically the awful fucking king of - I do have three other go-to Comeback Kid records that take precedence over this new LP. They are, of course, 'Wake The Dead', 'Die Knowing', and my top-tier favourite, 'Symptoms + Cures'. That being said, 'Outsider' is still a mighty solid showing of Comeback Kid's many talents, one that honours their many influences, shows off a few new flavors for their sound, positively adds to their wider discography, and features every single facet that's since made them the well-known, long-running name they are today in hardcore.

Here's how it's fucking done, kids.

1. Outsider

2. Surrender Control

3. Absolute (feat. Devin Townsend)

4. Hell Of A Scene

5. Somewhere, Somehow

6. Consumed The Vision (feat. Chriss Cresswell)

7. I'll Be That

8. Outrage (Fresh Face, Stale Cause)

9. Blindspot

10. Livid, I'm Prime

11. Recover

12. Throw That Stone

13. Moment In Time (feat. Northcote)

'Outsider' is out Friday, September 8th via Nuclear Blast Records. Also, is it just me or does the man on this album's cover remind anyone else of the person on the cover of Propagandhi's 'Failed States' album?